Issue 1 is George W. Bush's choice of Dick Cheney as a running mate, including reactions to his Sunday-morning interviews.
Cheney appears on four of five Sunday-morning programs: NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, and Fox News Sunday. In three of the four interviews, he seems forthcoming, trustworthy, and confident. (On TW, he grows angry at Sam Donaldson's combative questioning. He dismisses as "trivial" all questions about his record in the House of Representatives, at one point snapping, "What trivial question did you want to ask me, Sam?") He defends his votes against funding the Department of Education and Head Start by noting the big budget deficits in the 1980s. He defends his vote against recognizing the African National Congress by arguing that many considered it a terrorist organization. He says that economic sanctions "don't work," but defends Cuba as an exception. (On Fox, he frankly admits that he is swallowing Bush's pro-sanctions policies: "If I sign on as his No. 2, so to speak, I would expect to make my views [against sanctions] known, to express my thoughts to him privately, and then once he's made a decision I'll salute smartly and support the policy.") He defends his votes against prohibiting cop-killer bullets and plastic guns by reiterating his strict interpretation of the Second Amendment. On most of the above votes, he accuses the then-Democratic House leadership of pulling procedural tricks. On TW, he refuses to answer a question about Bush's alleged cocaine use, and both he (on FNS) and wife Lynne (on TW) refuse to answer questions about their allegedly lesbian daughter.
Although John McLaughlin ( The McLaughlin Group) and Bob Novak (CNN's Capital Gang) accuse the press of unfairly picking apart Cheney's House votes, most pundits think Bush's selection has gone over well. David Broder (MTP) predicts that Cheney's "reasonable" manner will offset his very conservative voting record. ("I mean it takes at least two ingredients to be a right-wing ogre," wags Tucker Carlson [CNN's Late Edition]. "You have to have the right ideas, but you also have to have the right-wing ogre temperament," which Cheney does not.) Joe Klein (MTP) notes that even an "unreconstructed conservative" like Cheney has in the past week come around to support minimal gun control and federal education spending, in order to appear politically palatable. On the substance of his House votes, Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson (both CG) argue that Cheney's votes for large tax cuts belie his apparent concern with the deficit. And Sam Donaldson (TW) wonders whether Cheney really always wanted Nelson Mandela released from jail, considering that he thought the ANC a terrorist organization.
Examples of questions posed to Dick Cheney by former Bush administration speechwriter Tony Snow (FNS):
- Are there any skeletons in your closet?
- Is Al Gore a nice guy?
- Do you think the Clinton administration is ethical?
- Are you going to take a swing at the opposition?
- What do you think Dubya has learned from his father?
- What has happened with the military since you presided over it?
This is beyond my paygrade. I plan to talk about education over the next few months. I don't want to take up minimum wage or NATO enlargement.
--Lynne Cheney, answering a question about the minimum wage's disproportionate impact on women (TW)
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